Resonance with ones consciousness, this is a phrase i could sincerely use when describing the music of Hiatus Kaiyote. A refreshing Australian band that emerged out of nowhere with the release of debut album titled Tawk Tomohawk.
When i first found them online on some mixcloud playlist, i was expecting a group that has been at it for long. However, they were a new small band based out of Melbourne. I just had to reach out to them. I bought their album and considered it my small bit of support. But the story has taken a big turn. They have become popular and gained praise from all over the world, and will be touring the US, and they fully deserve it.
Lets get to the music. My first few listens incited such responses “ This is music that shoots up through your veins and makes you fall deeper into the rabbit hole, for a joyride through different worlds and emotions. A perfect combination of precise craft and lyrical heart. “
This is a sound that cannot be easily classified, though what comes up at most times is 'neo soul' , i don't think it needs such classifications. Its a sweet, sophisticated post modern mix of different influences from our vast history of musical styles.
The first track titled Mobius Streak starts off with an immersive ambient introduction that invites you into this new world. Nai Palm's unique voice and style blends into this layered world of sounds as if its meant to be there. But its the palette of textures around it, which changes with the emotions led by the vocals that really transports the listener to a new vantage point. It is a dense sound but constantly changing in rhythm and details , which comes together to makes the 'happy hypnotic' feeling.
This is a rare occurrence that manages to capture that corner of ones mind, a collage which is in constant flux.
If you listen carefully you can hear the details laid out by each instruments in its own rights. With the samples, the detailed drumming with varying tones, the quick crafty details and punch from the bassist and the layered vocals that seamlessly blend and modulate with the change in pace. As this song comes to its end you know you are in for a ride, and that they know what they are doing.
The gaps between the track is just enough to catch a quick breath, and then an another adventure begins. melodies are molded with subtle textural variations which challenges your ears to tune in and listen carefully.
With the second track “ the world it softly lulls” there is a significant change to a more organic and warm feeling. Then the high pitched vocals, drenched in emotions kicks in, gliding on the heavy bass, with details from the guitar and piano in loops. Each change is acknowledged by the rest of the band, and therefore makes it a complete sound, seemingly emerging from a single source. This is a track where on starts clearly hearing the effort put into the poetic and honest lyrics.
The third track “leap frog” is an instrumental interlude that gives a moment of pause. It seems as if they worked with a playlist genius, who got the order of tracks just right through the album crafting its ebbs and flow of energy.
The fourth track “Malika” starts with an electro glitchy ambiance with a simple guitar lead and then the vocals kick in to stop you in your tracks. Emotionally and musically intense this track takes the listener through parts that are tight and dark, in tone, words and rhythm which suddenly bursts open into beautiful, spacious, fleeting world of new found joy.
The next one titled ocelot, kicks in with very disruptive tone, breaking the loose ends with which you left the last track. The sounds and drums are much more heavier. A short composition that displays the versatility of the band that flows straight into the next track which feels like an extension of this sound.
The next track which is strategically places starts with a very melodious and slow beginning. “Lace Skull” has a dominant piano tone through the song. But again nothing is fixed or held onto more than needed, as the song quickly picks up pace ,distributes instrumentation and changes direction.
The next song “Rainbow Rhodes” kicks in before the previous track concludes, with a slick bass line with atmospheric muted keys gliding on it.
There is some sort of a core melody that extends through these three songs all the way to Sphynx gate, but each unique in its treatment. This track has a heavy and funky drum beat sitting perfectly on the melody. It becomes a perfect transition to the last track that brings you back to earth with much love.
Nakkammarra is a song with more pure sounds from the band, and it melts you, with tones that are fierce and soft from the vocals and keyboard. This beautiful composition unwinds the energy built through the album and leaves you with a hunger for more.
These songs have the amazing ability to pull one into their world and listen carefully, but at the same time it is an album you can unwind to, which could be a very subjective claim.
But thats exactly where i found the sweet spot , interesting enough to follow with undivided attention and at the same to give way and let it lead from the background.
The careful sound production feels as if there is no element that's out of place, nothing you can add or remove. A definite milestone in its blend of analog sounds and variations of tones. With the heavy instrumentation, what softens the sound is the voice with matching intensity, that is poignant and raw at the same time.
This music is an intelligent and poetic contribution to the world, that demonstrate that contemporary,post modern, eclectic music can respect the past and take it forward at the same time. Though it can get tiring after repeated hearing , i seem to constantly revisit this album with small breaks inbetween to catch something i might have missed and for an inspiring escape.